The Oak Room (2020) Movie Review

The Oak Room – Too Many Stories

Director: Cody Calahan

Writer: Peter Genoway (Screenplay)

Starring: RJ Mitte, Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Nicholas Campbell, Martin Roach, David Ferry, Amos Crawley

Plot: During a raging snowstorm, a drifter returns home to the blue-collar bar located in the remote Canadian town where he was born. When he offers to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story, the night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses and shocking violence.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Oak Room starts when Steve (Mitte) returns home during a snowstorm, returning to the local bar to repay a debt to Paul (Outerbridge), offering him a story as to why he has returned.

As Steve recounts his story, he tells a tale of the time he was the bartender, meeting a stranger in the bar late one night, with their own story.

Thoughts on The Oak Room

Characters & Performances – Steve is the drifter who has returned home to pay a debt, he has a story to what has kept him away and he wants to tell it, which will give us the reasons to why he took so long to return. He is filled with a grief of not being home for his father’s funeral, a grief he would like to shake. RJ Mitte does struggle to become the narrator we need, each scene leaves him struggling to make the impact required. Paul is the bartender being told the story, he wants the debt repaid and isn’t prepared to listen to the stories, he just wants the point made. Must like everyone else in this film, we do find ourselves being left in the middle of jumping between characters, where the actors just don’t get to make the impact they would like to in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a drifter that returns to a local bar where he looks to pay of a debt, only for him to tell a story that starts tame before turning much darker than you could imagine. This is a story that is looking to make an edgy tale, only it takes a long time to get going and by the time we get to the darker side of the tale. Once we get the shocking side of things, it does feel flat and doesn’t seem to hit the chords it wants to and ends up leaving us with more questions than answers.

ThemesThe Oak Room is a mystery wrapped in a thriller that doesn’t get into the intense questions until much later into the film, leaving the tension not being built up for the shocking reveal. The single locations of the two bars does help keep things contained, but never gets used well enough for the truth.

The Oak Room will available on Digital Download from 26th April

 

The Oak Room is a film that is desperate to give us a shocking story, only it takes too long to get there.

Into the Labyrinth (2019) Movie Review

Into the Labyrinth – Dark & Disturbing Mystery

Director: Donato Carrisi

Writer: Donato Carrisi (Screenplay) Donato Carrisi (Novel)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Toni Servillo, Valentina Belle, Vinicio Marchoini, Katsiaryne Shulha

Plot: Samantha, a young kidnapped girl, resurfaces in shock after being imprisoned and hospitalized.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Into the Labyrinth starts as Dottor Green (Hoffman) is interviewing escaped victims Samantha Andretti (Belle) about her time locked away, 15 years trapped in a labyrinth, which she learnt to navigate before her escape, she is recounting her story to Dottor. Bruno Genko (Servillo) is leading his own investigation into the string of missing children, which will lead him down a trail of bunnies.

Bruno will start to look into the one other person known to have escaped a labyrinth, Robin Basso, believing he could be the one behind a new string of murders, or it is just a bigger group behind the labyrinth.

Thoughts on Into the Labyrinth

Characters & Performances – Dottor Green is the doctor treating Samantha after her ordeal, he is trying to learn about what happened, helping her regain her memories from her time in there. He remains clam with his search for the truth. Dustin Hoffman does make an impact in his scenes, despite him only having limited location throughout the film. Bruno Genko is investigating the string of disappearances, he believes he knows who is behind the crimes and finds himself getting caught up in the bigger underworld of what is going on. Toni Servillo does most of the leg work when it comes to the acting, needing to get involved in the bigger action sequences and handling the serious side of the crimes. Samantha Andretti is the victim that has been held by the mysterious psychopath in a labyrinth, she was made to complete tasks to stay alive and now she is trying to piece together her memories of her time inside the labyrinth. Valentina Belle does well mixing her narration with her horror moments in the film. The rest of the supporting cast are entertaining to watch and get their scenes to make an impact with most involved Bruno and his investigation.

StoryThe story here follows a doctor trying to treat a victim of a psychopaths twisted games, while a detective is looking for answers about who is behind them, with the two stories going on parallel to each other. This is a creepy story with how the two stories play out, on one hand we learn the disturbing actions of what has been happening over the years, with the different games, this could have gone even deeper, when we learn the length of time spent inside the labyrinth. The investigation is somehow even darker, with disturbing interactions with people that could lead to even more mysteries about what is going on. The two stories work well together giving us a very dark story to follow along with, but it does seem to go on a little longer than needed.

ThemesInto the Labyrinth is a disturbing crime mystery horror thriller that will introduce the twisted games being played, it will lead you with plenty of disturbing moments around what the victims must go through and with how the investigation isn’t a smooth as the detective would imagine. The use of the rabbit figure only adds to the disturbing nature going on in the film.

 

Into the Labyrinth in a darkly disturbing thriller that will measure just how much you can handle in this dark world.

Lizzie (2018) Movie Review

Director: Craig William Macneill

Writer: Bryce Kass (Screenplay)

Starring: Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jeff Perry, Fiona Shaw, Jamey Sheridan, Tara Ochs, Kim Dickens

Plot: A psychological thriller based on the infamous 1892 murders of Lizzie Andrew Borden‘s family.


Tagline – The legend of Lizzie Borden.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Lizzie starts as we meet the neglected Lizzie Borden (Sevigny) who is living in the shadow of her father Andrew (Sheridan) with her own health problems and nothing set up in her own future, a new maid Bridget Sullivan (Stewart) starts working in the house, she has nothing and finds herself needing to work just to make it through, getting closer to Lizzie during her employment.

The two become lovers and looks to escape this world together, finding their escape becoming one of the most famous incidents in history.

Thoughts on Lizzie

Final Thoughts The Lizzie Borden story is one of the most famous stories in American history, it has had so many different points of view about what caused the murders, we get to look at another idea, one that dealt with abuse, which caused a breaking point for Lizzie, along with her lover being part of everything that went down. This does have a slow pace, which doesn’t seem to work for the story, making it feel very slow to watch, with characters that aren’t bought to life in the way we would imagine them to be. We do seem to get targeted to sympathise with Lizzie, supporting her decision to kill her parents, which whatever really happened, doesn’t feel justified by the action in this story. We can’t fault the performances, as they didn’t have too much to work with to make them stand out from any other version of the people and by the end it does feel like it runs for too long to bot get enough out of everything we see.



ABC Film Challenge – Catch-up 2020 – L – Luce (2019) Movie Review

Director: Julius Onah

Writer: J.C. Lee, Julius Onah (Screenplay) J.C. Lee (Play)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Tim Roth, Norbert Leo Butz, Andrea Bang

Plot: A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.


Tagline – The Truth Has Many Faces

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Thought-Provoking

Story: Luce starts as we meet all-star student Luce Edgar (Harrison Jr) on the verge of a bright future, his adopted parents Amy (Watts) and Peter (Roth) are proud of him and how much he has achieved since they adopted him from war-torn Eritrea.

After an incident at school, one of the teachers Harriet Wilson (Spencer) discovers fireworks in Luce’s locker, which leads to a loss of trust between the family, teacher and questions circling around Luce’s past.

Thoughts on Luce

Characters – Luce is the model student, top of the class, sports star, the popular student with a bright future, he is refugee from Eritrea who was given a home in America, where he builds this future, he is close with his teammates, which sees them sharing lookers. He starts to clash with one of his teachers, which sees him clashing with his parents, while always staying one step ahead of the adults with stories that cover up any truths. Harriet Wilson is the teacher that clashes with Luce, she believes he has a secret that could expose his true motivations in life, while she is balancing the personal problems at home, she gets to a level which seems desperate. Amy is Luce’s adopted mother, she has always looked to create the best life for him, believing he will have a future he never imagined from his previous life. Peter is the father that always wanted to be a father, he has been happy with how Luce turned out, but deep down, he has always wondered about the connection he would have had with a child of his own.

PerformancesKelvin Harrison Jr is outstanding in the leading role, showing the pure confidence his character has in his action, while using this to hold himself together. Octavia Spencer is great too, showing how committed to making a change a teacher can be. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth shine in the parental roles, always wanting to make sure they are around for their new son.

StoryThe story here follows a star student that sudden starts getting targeted by one of his teachers, he is trying to stay ahead of the accusation, while preparing for his graduation speech, leaving us wondering why he is being targeted. This story is one that is covered in tension, we know something has happened for the events of the film to be unfolding the way they are, we are left to wonder just what caused these changes, made everyone react the way they are. We get the important messages being put forward too. The story will see us believing we know what is happening, only for everything to get turned on its head.

MysteryThe film creates a mystery, which is truly brilliant to watch unfold, we won’t get the answers easily and are constantly kept guessing.

SettingsThe film uses the everyday locations that a student and teacher would have, where they will see how their lives can crossover and create something bigger in life.


Scene of the Movie – Get out of my house.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain scenes don’t need to be here.

Final Thoughts This is a clever smart mystery that will spend the whole time keeping us guessing as to what will happen next, leaving us shocked with the truth.

Overall: Clever Mystery.

Fugue (2018) Movie Review

Director: Tomas Street

Writer: Tomas Street (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka

Plot: Amnesic Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity.


Tagline – Who do you think you are?

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Fugue starts when Malcolm (Foley) wakes up without the memories of his life, his wife Helen (Tremblay) helping fill him in with the blanks of their life together, the small stories about them, until that night they get attacked, with Malcolm waking up not remembering anything.

Malcolm starts a new story, leading us to discover that people are trying to get a safe open in his life, with a code he can’t remember.

Thoughts on Fugue

Final Thoughts Fugue is a film that follows one man who is suffering from amnesia and finds himself being forced into giving up a code for a safe, he doesn’t remember each day, which will show from how the story is willing to shuffle to the timeline on everything we see. We do keep going through the different ideas of what might be happening with twists around each scene. The performances through the film are strong with Jack Foley in the leading role, showing us the strength of his character and the uncertainty required. The mystery we are looking to solve does keep us guessing, but we don’t seem to learn enough by the conclusion of the film, leaving a lot of empty loose ends to everything we have been watching.